Conservative media did a whatabout noting that Wisconsin’s Bradley Foundation servers got hacked, but the reality could be something quite different, considering how the RWNJ disinformation tropes are running so far this week.
It seems designed to counter the Jane Mayer article in the NewYorker on the continued financing of trumpian grifts including the Big Lie.
One of the movement’s leaders is the Heritage Foundation, the prominent conservative think tank in Washington, D.C. It has been working with the American Legislative Exchange Council (alec)—a corporate-funded nonprofit that generates model laws for state legislators—on ways to impose new voting restrictions. Among those deep in the fight is Leonard Leo, a chairman of the Federalist Society, the legal organization known for its decades-long campaign to fill the courts with conservative judges. In February, 2020, the Judicial Education Project, a group tied to Leo, quietly rebranded itself as the Honest Elections Project, which subsequently filed briefs at the Supreme Court, and in numerous states, opposing mail-in ballots and other reforms that have made it easier for people to vote.
Another newcomer to the cause is the Election Integrity Project California. And a group called FreedomWorks, which once concentrated on opposing government regulation, is now demanding expanded government regulation of voters, with a project called the National Election Protection Initiative.
These disparate nonprofits have one thing in common: they have all received funding from the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation. Based in Milwaukee, the private, tax-exempt organization has become an extraordinary force in persuading mainstream Republicans to support radical challenges to election rules—a tactic once relegated to the far right. With an endowment of some eight hundred and fifty million dollars, the foundation funds a network of groups that have been stoking fear about election fraud, in some cases for years. Public records show that, since 2012, the foundation has spent some eighteen million dollars supporting eleven conservative groups involved in election issues.
It might seem improbable that a low-profile family foundation in Wisconsin has assumed a central role in current struggles over American democracy. But the modern conservative movement has depended on leveraging the fortunes of wealthy reactionaries. In 1903, Lynde Bradley, a high-school dropout in Milwaukee, founded what would become the Allen-Bradley company. He was soon joined by his brother Harry, and they got rich by selling electronic instruments such as rheostats. Harry, a John Birch Society founding member, started a small family foundation that initially devoted much of its giving to needy employees and to civic causes in Milwaukee. In 1985, after the brothers’ death, their heirs sold the company to the defense contractor Rockwell International, for $1.65 billion, generating an enormous windfall for the foundation. The Bradley Foundation remains small in comparison with such liberal behemoths as the Ford Foundation, but it has become singularly preoccupied with wielding national political influence. It has funded conservative projects ranging from school-choice initiatives to the controversial scholarship of Charles Murray, the co-author of the 1994 book “The Bell Curve,” which argues that Blacks are less likely than whites to join the “cognitive elite.” And, at least as far back as 2012, it has funded groups challenging voting rights in the name of fighting fraud.
Since the 2020 election, this movement has evolved into a broader and more aggressive assault on democracy. According to some surveys, a third of Americans now believe that Biden was illegitimately elected, and nearly half of Trump supporters agree that Republican legislators should overturn the results in some states that Biden won. Jonathan Rauch, of the Brookings Institution, recently told The Economist, “We need to regard what’s happening now as epistemic warfare by some Americans on other Americans.” Pillars of the conservative establishment, faced with a changing U.S. voter population that threatens their agenda, are exploiting Trump’s contempt for norms to devise ways to hold on to power. Senator Whitehouse said of the campaign, “It’s a massive covert operation run by a small group of billionaire élites. These are powerful interests with practically unlimited resources who have moved on to manipulating that most precious of American gifts—the vote.”
We’ll see whether GOP politicians like Ron Johnson mention it as well as providing cover for more cyber-attacks in general on the US technological infrastructure. Johnson is definitely working the disinformation today, somehow blaming the FBI for the insurrection.
Russia was apparently behind a hack of the conservative Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation's servers, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported Friday.
The hackers stole documents from the foundation and posted them online, the report said.
It is unclear what the hacker or hackers' motives or intentions were, although they evidently tried to hide the Russian involvement. The purloined files were distributed via a Twitter site named "Anonymous Poland." The site has not posted since November.
An investigation by the Journal Sentinel reported that "Experts in cyber security point to evidence that the theft ... was likely the work of Russian hackers."
The newspaper noted that "Anonymous Poland" posted three letters purporting to show that Cynthia Friauf, Bradley's vice president of finance, directed $156 million to Clinton's campaign. The letters were fairly obvious frauds given the foundation's conservative stance and the fact that such a staggering donation would not go unnoticed during a presidential campaign.
‘Big Money Behind the Big Lie’ story exposes Bradley Foundation role
The foundation describes itself as supporting limited government. The New York Times described the Bradley Foundation as "a leading source of ideas and financing for American conservatives."
In a 2018 interview, the Foundation's CEO Richard Graber described the Foundation's four major areas of funding as "constitutional order," education (in particular school choice), civil society, and arts and culture. In the same interview, Richard Graber said that the foundation would deemphasize some topic areas on which it had previously made grants, including national security and foreign policy. Between 2008 and 2011, the Bradley Foundation donated millions of dollars to three anti-Muslim groups: the David Horowitz Freedom Center (which received $4.2 million), Frank Gaffney's Center for Security Policy (which received $815,000) and Daniel Pipes' Middle East Forum (which received $305,000). The foundation's funding was criticized by the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which described the grant recipients as an "Islamophobic network."
Organizations awarded grants by the Foundation have included FreedomWorks, Americans for Prosperity, The Heritage Foundation, the Hoover Institution, the Black Alliance for Educational Options and the SEED Foundation.
Key Players in the Russian Disinformation Campaign
1. Senator Ron Johnson, Republican of Wisconsin, Chair of Senate Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs Committee
2. Senator Chuck Grassley, Republican of Iowa, Chair of Senate Committee on Finance
3. Senator Richard Burr, Republican of North Carolina, Chair of Senate Intelligence Committee (Jan. 2015 – May 2020)
4. Senator Marco Rubio, Republican of Florida, Chair of Senate Intelligence Committee (May 2020-present)
5. Rudy Guiliani, Donald Trump’s personal attorney
6. Andrii Derkach, a pro-Russian Ukrainian lawmaker, identified by U.S. intelligence as running a disinformation campaign in conjunction with the Kremlin to damage Biden’s candidacy in support of Trump in the 2020 election
7. Andrii Telizhenko, former Ukrainian diplomatic aide; reportedly identified by the FBI as a conduit for Russian disinformation to damage Biden in the 2020 election
8. Oleksandr Onyshchenko, former pro-Russian lawmaker, spreading disinformation about Biden in 2020 election
9. Ken Vogel, journalist, previously at Politico, now at New York Times
10. John Solomon, journalist/commentator, previously at The Hill